Sacred Heart sells poinsettias to raise money

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Tuesday was Sacred Heart’s annual poinsettia day, more than 1,400 of the red, white and pink plants sold with proceeds benefiting Salisbury’s Catholic church school.
Profits topped $5,000, the money earmarked for the school’s technology department, specifically for the purchase of laptop computers.
“This is the way I give back to the school,” said Traci Chilton, who headed the drive for the sixth consecutive year. “It symbolizes the holidays for the school and the church.”
Distribution was from F&M Bank’s Trolley Barn. Those who’d pre-ordered were able to drive in, give their names and wait for the boxed plants to be loaded. Chilton said 1,415 of the plants ó at $7 apiece ó were sold. The number was a slight decrease from last year’s record, when 1,701 of the plants went out the door, but Chilton said sales were still remarkable considering the state of the economy.
The plants were raised at nearby Rockwell Farms.
“It’s one day, then it’s wrapped up,” Chilton said of the effort that goes into the project. “It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun.”
Truth be told, planning for the event and selling the plants is considerably tougher than a one-day shebang. Throughout November, everyone from students to parents to faculty members busy themselves pre-selling poinsettias. It’s a community effort.
When the day of delivery arrives, Chilton ó who has two children at Sacred Heart ó takes off from her job as a teller with Wachovia Bank to work at the Trolley Barn. She has plenty of help.
Chilton said four volunteers ó Chris and Kristine Blackwell, Toni Barrios and Cindy Sigmon ó arrived at the Trolley Barn early Tuesday to unload huge racks holding the poinsettias and box them according to orders. When customers arrived to pick up the poinsettias they’d ordered, all Chilton had to do was find the appropriate box and load them.
She wasn’t left to do all that work herself. A number of other parents from Sacred Heart stopped by to help, bringing with them everything from doughnuts to pizza to encouragement.
Students also involved themselves in the effort. Late Tuesday afternoon, Chilton’s daughter, Caroline and Max Barrios, both eighth-graders at Sacred Heart, were helping load the plants.
Robin Fisher was one of several parents who stopped by to make sure that everything was proceeding as planned. Asked if Chilton did a fine job heading the project, Fisher laughed, then gushed.
“Oh, gosh, yes,” she said. “We couldn’t ask more of her.”
Fisher said that while the crux of the poinsettias are picked up at the Trolley Barn, some will be delivered. Deliveries will continue today.
“If they’ll make a large enough order, we’ll deliver them,” Fisher said.
Chilton said the poinsettia project is one that supporters of Sacred Heart have involved themselves with for the better part of 20 years. Typically, the money goes to a specific endeavor at the school. One year, profits went to rebuild the playground at the old Sacred Heart School. Last year, the first for the new school, money was given to administrators for any project they deemed appropriate.
Chilton said use of the Trolley Barn makes the work infinitely more easy. In years past, the plants were distributed at the school. Chilton recalled one year when they worked in a driving rain, another when it was snowing on them as they tried to load the poinsettias.
“It’s much easier here,” Chilton said of using the Trolley Barn. “F&M is wonderful to let us use it.”
Chilton said the proprietors of Rockwell Farms have also been great in aiding the project, selling the poinsettias at a price that assures the school will make a good profit. Jason Roseman is the salesman at Rockwell Farms who works with Sacred Heart on the project. The business is owned by Tom Abramowski, whose children attended Sacred Heart.
Since Sacred Heart serves students only from kindergarten through eighth grade, Chilton said her years of heading the poinsettia project are winding to a close. While her daughter is an eighth-grader, her son, Matthew is a seventh-grader.
Chilton said she plans to head the project another year when her son is in the eighth grade, then relinquish the duties to someone else.
“I’m sort of sad about that,” she said. “It’s almost time I passed the torch to someone else.”
Chilton said working with the poinsettias these past few years has opened her eyes to all the beauty the plants offer. She said she buys plenty of the plants herself, then delivers them to everyone from neighbors to her hairdresser. Chilton said she has yet to deliver one when the recipient didn’t smile brightly upon receiving the poinsettia.
“It’s just a wonderful gift,” Chilton said. “I can’t make a plate of cookies for $7.”